The Food and Drug Administration defines “ham” as “the cured leg of pork.” Now, under this punishingly strict and arbitrary definition, the circular meat product that goes excellently with egg and cheese on a bagel cannot legally be referred to as “ham.” However, that does NOT make it okay to call such food “pork roll.” It is TAYLOR HAM and no one can tell me otherwise. Miss me with that pork roll shit.
You see, in the Great State of New Jersey, there are two (AND ONLY TWO) regions, North Jersey and South Jersey. North Jersey is a diverse and glorious economic powerhouse, close to New York City, the greatest city in the world, and home to powerhouse cultural icons like Frank Sinatra, The Sopranos, The Godfather, and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. When my ancestors, wasting away in the shtetls of Russia, the barren potato fields of Ireland, and the war-torn ruins of Poland dreamt of coming to a new life in America, they did not dream of New York or Chicago or Los Angeles; they dreamt of Newark, New Jersey, where the streets were paved with high-quality bagels, pizza, and yes, TAYLOR HAM. What does South Jersey have? Well they have a bunch of inbred “Pineys” hiding deep in the Pine Barrens (actually a good thing since it means we don’t have to look at them), they have the thrilling and critically acclaimed series Jersey Shore, they have beaches renowned for the amount of hypodermic needles that wash up on them, and they have a bunch of Pennsylvania exiles who just couldn’t quite hack the Philadelphia lifestyle. Imagine, an entire area populated by people who weren’t good enough for PHILADELPHIA. And they have the AUDACITY, THE UNMITIGATED GALL to try and tell us that, well actually, it’s pork roll. FUCK NO!
Let me tell you, James Gandolfini didn’t die for this. And if I must die for this hill, so be it. I will defend the honor of Taylor Ham to my last breath, and a bunch of sister-fucking woods-people will call it pork roll over my dead body.
Alec Faber ’20